Monday, December 13, 2010

On Running

I haven't really written much of an update on my running program. Well, let's face it, I haven't really written much of an update about anything much in a long time. But I did want to sketch out the highlights.

I went through the beginning running schedule through the class that I was taking with my local Y. For the most part this worked out pretty well and it did a good job of generally keeping me on track. Having each week's requirements in black & white and not wanting to fall behind were very good motivators to keep me on the schedule. I think the max of straight running that I was able to do (running without a walk-break) was 26 minutes. The goal of the class was to be able to run for 30 minutes straight (they assume that in that 30 minutes you're covering about a 5K -- nice try), so I fell a little short in the end. To be honest, however, I never did go out there on the last week of the class and attempt the 30 minutes, so I very possibly could have done it, but at that stage the class schedule had gotten me to the basic place where I wanted to be and I was satisfied enough with that.

Around the last week of the class I participated in a local 5K at Mine Falls Park, which was a fun thing to do. I was very disappointed with my time and, even more than my time, I was disappointed in how poorly I paced and pushed myself during the race. But it was fun to be out there again and it was a perfect day for a race. I had forgotten how great I used to feel on a Saturday or Sunday morning right after participating in a race. There were a few years while living in NYC where this was pretty common weekend activity for me. I had had plans to do another 5K on Thanksgiving Day at the same location, but, between every muscle in my body being unbelievably sore from hunting the day before, and the race starting at the ungodly hour of 8 AM (previous race had started at the more civilized hour of 10 AM), I never made it to the start. I wish there were some other local races coming up that I could target, but the race calendar around here is pretty sparse this time of year. I find that if I have something that I'm working towards that it helps me focus a bit. I may not be going for some big personal record (PR), but not wanting to be embarrassed and not wanting to disappoint myself are usually good enough motivators to stick with a training plan to some degree. But, with nothing coming up, I'm going to have to find other motivators. Already I am finding the colder weather to be a big challenge, most of my runs over the past couple of weeks have been on the treadmill. There is nothing wrong with the treadmill, I guess, but I worry a bit about keeping the running going through the entire Winter if I'm only using that.

I am now trying to come up with some kind of training plan. I would like to run a 10K in the late Spring or thereabouts and I would like to get my weekly mileage up to about 25 miles per week, but I'm not thinking much beyond these two goals. I think I am going to push back the idea of running straight (no walk-breaks) and do some planned run / walk intervals for a while. There are a number of reasons for this decision:
  1. I want to keep running as enjoyable as possible. I recognize that I am at a bit of a vulnerable point in my new running program. This is the stage when I very often give up. The excitement of the new program starts to wane, I start to get pissed off over my lack of progress and I get discouraged over how impossible it seems.
  2. I want to build some more mileage and I just can't do it the way that I've been running.
  3. Run/walk intervals will allow me to include more variety into my weekly schedule.
  4. I need to build endurance, while also getting in a good workout for each session. Run/walk will allow for longer training sessions.

I am really trying to come up with ideas that are most likely to make me successful in getting through the Winter. I am not being too ambitious about what I expect to accomplish through March because I want to be realistic. I feel that if I can finish the Winter still running, with a consistent weekly mileage base, even if it's only 20 miles per week, and a long-ish run of around 5 miles. I will feel that I was successful. If I can maintain that through March, then I feel that I'll be in a pretty good position to start increasing mileage a bit and also increase the long run some. That's what I'm thinking anyway.

Friday, December 10, 2010

A-Hunting We Will Go!

I was invited to go fox hunting on the day before Thanksgiving, something that I have wanted to do since I was probably, oh, about 12 or 13. Anyway, I've been meaning to write up a detailed report of the experience and haven't had time. Instead, I am cutting & pasting highlights that I wrote in an email that I sent to a couple of friends a couple of days afterwards.

(Disclaimer: This was a drag hunt, which means that a scent was dragged ahead of time for the hounds to follow. There were no live foxes involved).

This is what hunting was like:

  • Pre-hunt announcements, instructions, etc. (meet our field master and so-on).
  • Release the hounds -- watch them fly across the field (it was an awesome sight). Ruby, ears pricked & watching, you could almost see the wheels turning and her thinking, 'Well, I know what THIS is!' (At certain times in open country when you could see the hounds and the field of horses all spread out chasing, it was breath-taking and amazing to know you are a part of it).
  • Next moment, you're just flat out galloping HARD. Like, tears-flowing-out-of-your-eyes-so-much-you-can-hardly-see, hard. Horse is galloping and passing everyone in the field. You have strong "conversation" with horse to gain control and not pass field master. Pass everyone in field but field master (thankfully).
  • Gallop hard from field to field to woods to field again.
  • Encounter jumps along the way and jump everything. Thought once in a while floats across brain, 'Wow, that looks a bit ... LARGE ... oh what the heck.' And jump it anyway. Try to get the coordination of giving the horse in front enough room to jump while not disrupting the flow of pace. Figure that out and move on.
  • Fly though the woods and think, 'Wow if I was trail riding on my own, I'm not sure if I would even trot through this footing, no less gallop ... ' Gallop anyway.
  • Gallop through field with a little ditch with water flowing. Other horses splash through, your horse jumps it (yes, those ditch issues are long gone).
  • Realize about 20-30 minutes in that your quads are completely shredded and jell-o-like, like you had been skiing big moguls all day.
  • Realize that without recent running program you would NOT have been able to do this. Be thankful for running program.
  • Finally some trotting and a couple of check-points (where you stop and the fields re-group). Realize that your legs are now jelly.
  • Reach area for stirrup cup, volunteers hand out lemonade. Some seasoned hunt members pull out flasks.
  • Hack back to starting point and the riding part of the hunt is over.
  • Go in for the hunt "tea" (which is really a big, potluck brunch). Eat good food and down two big glasses of wine.
  • Wake up the next day incredibly sore from head-to-toe.

That was my hunt experience in a nutshell! And I can't wait to do it again (am considering becoming a member for next year).

Did I mention how wonderful my horse is?